A Brooklyn jury began deliberating murder and burglary charges Tuesday against a Queens man accused in the 2011 death of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski of West Babylon.
Police and prosecutors eager to avenge the murder of Figoski coerced an incriminating statement from the man, Kevin Santos, 32, his attorney told the jury in State Supreme Court earlier in the day.
"If there ever was a case where emotion overcame good judgment, this is the one," Harold Baker told the jury in his summation. He said Santos had given two written statements to detectives and one video statement to a prosecutor before finally implicating himself.
In the earlier statements, Santos admitted going with four other men from Ozone Park to a house in the Cypress Hills Section of Brooklyn to buy marijuana, but said he backed out after realizing they were going to rob the dealer.
He also first said he never entered the basement apartment where the robbery occurred, but admitted in the final statement, on a video played for the jury, that he had been there.
Prosecutor Howard Jackson said in his summation that there was "not a shred of evidence" of coercion, only the blanket assertion by Baker. Jackson said it was "a simple and straightforward case if you focus on the evidence," which included Santos' statements, an accomplice's testimony and security videos showing Santos fleeing.
Baker had questioned the honesty of the accomplice, Ariel Tejada, 24. He noted that Tejada had admitted to several robberies of drug dealers and agreed to a reduced sentence in return for his testimony.
Jackson argued that Tejada had no motive to lie because his deal does not hinge on getting convictions.
"It was crystal clear," Jackson added, that there was enough evidence to convict Santos without Tejada's testimony.
A detective accompanying Santos to Central Booking after his arrest testified that Santos asked him whether he could be charged with murder if he didn't pull the trigger. Baker pointed out that the detective had not written down that statement until a week later.
Santos is the final defendant to stand trial for the murder, which occurred Dec. 12, 2011, when Figoski, 47, was shot by one of five men robbing the drug dealer.
Two of them have been convicted of murder at separate trials. One, accused of being the getaway driver, was acquitted by another jury, and Tejada agreed to a sentence of 18 years to life in prison in return for his testimony against the others.
Figoski family members, including his former wife and his parents, listened to summations and then went to a courthouse conference room to await the verdict, as they did at end of the three other jury trials.